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Childcare photo
Photo by Rotary Club of Nagpur

When the kids decided to live in different countries from us their parents, one did not factor in not having family around to help when the babies arrived. As the boys grew, I always had my parents support and the aid of help in India, which came in on a daily basis, or lived in with us till the boys grew older. Not so in Western countries. Help is expensive, very expensive and is paid on an hourly basis. AND one never can vouch for the person who is let into your home to look after your children on trust. There have been so many horror stories of nannies shaking babies to death in their own homes.

So the kids have taken decisions to keep their infants in day care centres which they choose with care after getting reviews from other parents. Plus a day care center ensures the child can never be abused as there are many helpers and children in the center.

Reading a paper by Deborah Phillips, Ph.D., who is professor and chair of the department of psychology at Georgetown University, she writes that, studies of child development confirm that experiences with people mould an infant’s mind and personality . Caregiving is, therefore, central to development, whether the caregiver is a parent , a grandmother, or a teacher in a child care center . Her paper used data from new, national studies of families to examine the state of child care for infants and toddlers in the US.

The story is complex, as the author outlines the overlapping impacts that diverse child care settings and home situations have on children . Early exposure to child care can foster children’s learning and enhance their lives, or it can leave them at risk for troubled relationships. The outcome that results, depends largely on the quality of the child care center. Responsive caregivers who surround children with language, warmth, and chances to learn are the key to good outcomes. Other quality attributes, like training and staff-to-child ratios matter says the paper, because they foster positive caregiving.Diversity and variability are extremely important as well.

Both “wonderful and woeful” care can be found in all types of child care but, overall, settings where quality is compromised are distressingly common.Children who come from low income families, are the group most often exposed to poor-quality care.

The author has worked a graph which shows rapid growth in maternal employment, which is among the most commonly noted trends of the past quarter century. In 1975, some 34% of mothers with children under age three were in the workforce. In 2000, this figure reached 61%. Among mothers of infants, rates of employment climbed from 50% to 56% in just the past decade. Accordingly , the care of infants and toddlers has undergone a dramatic transition from being the primary responsibility of mothers to becoming the shared responsibility of parents and child care providers
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According to national US surveys, by the mid-1990s, about 6 million infants and toddlers were in some form of regular, nonparental child care. The paper has followed a diverse but not nationally representative sample of more than 1,200 families around the country since their baby’s birth to track and understand the consequences of their child care choices Almost three – quarters of the infants (72%) experienced regular , nonparental child care during the first year of life, with the vast majority entering care before four months of age. Families that were heavily dependent on the mother’s wages, and those who had experienced bouts of poverty or welfare dependence, placed their infants in child care at the earliest age (prior to three months old), whereas those with higher incomes were able to wait a bit longer. For the vast majority of infants, this point of first entry marks the beginning of a child care history that stretches into the mid – elementary school years.

Interestingly the research indicates that child care is not a monolith. There is no single story to tell about how child care affects children, says the author. Sometimes, child care enhances the lives of young children and fosters their development. Sometimes, it puts children at risk and undermines their development. But an important finding of the study was that both the positive and negative effects are derived not from child care alone, but also from how the family responds to the circumstances that led them to use child care in the first place, and how they respond to their children when they are with them. Infact, one of the most important findings from research on child care is that parents and the home environments they create, remain the predominant influences on young children’s adjustment and wellbeing, despite the substantial time that many youngsters spend in nonparental child care settings.

To conclude the paper says it is no longer appropriate to ask whether child care is good or bad for children without simultaneously considering, what they are experiencing at home. Child care can expose young children to risk or protect them from it; it can exacerbate troubling family circumstances or it can provide beneficial experiences for children who do not receive them at home.

Bruce Fuller et al who have written a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Massachusetts, says, they have found that exposure to at least a half-day center program yields cognitive benefits for most children. The good news is that middle-class children appear to benefit cognitively as well. The bad news is that universal access may not dramatically close early learning gaps.The groups findings also suggest that greater benefits can accrue from interventions that start earlier than age four. However they found that generally, children learn more when they start center care between two and three years of age. In addition, while half day programs may be beneficial for children from higher income families, full day programs better serve children from lower income families, allowing them to gain pre-reading and math skills without detriment to social behavior.

Dr. Marianne Furtado de Nazareth is Former Assistant Editor, The Deccan Herald, Bangalore, Adjunct Faculty of St. Joseph’s College of Mass Communication

12 Comments

  1. Sally Dugman says:

    Oh, there are plenty of bad nursery schools (child care centers) and schools with older children that exist. A number of my friends and I have worked at some of them, although we have worked at good schools, too.

    The fact that there are groups of teachers together doesn’t necessarily provide a limit on emotional or physical abuse since the teachers may work together to provide it. You can see some examples here:

    Bad Schools

    Be Careful In Selecting An Early Childhood Center For Your Children’s Care! They may look good on the outside — on the skin level. Yet many are rotten to the core! Recently I learned from TV channel seven news reports that 10,000 of the 70,000 early child care centers in Massachusetts, USA are under intense investigation at any given time[Read More…]

    Bad Schools – Countercurrents
    https://countercurrents.org/2017/02/27/bad-schools/
    Feb 27, 2017 – It points to too many utterly deplorable schools that have alarming infractions harming children! In the news reports, it was explained that DEEC has a very limited staff and cannot ever process all of the 10.000 violations — just the most troublesome, emergency-level, worst ones at any given time. To even …

  2. Marianne Nazareth says:

    So glad to get your feedback. Glad to also know that there is a legal body that will keep an eye and take up violations in the US.

    We have no such body in India and all parents have is recourse to the police to sort out issues.

    • Sally Dugman says:

      Oftentimes parents don’t even know that something wrong is going on at a school. This is just one of many reasons to have regulatory commissions. We also have a reporting of abuse agency and it is legally mandated that teachers and others do so in MA, along with teachers and others taking a training session to know about what constitutes abuse and neglect. We also have 20 hours a year of required training for teachers to maintain their licenses to teach. In addition, first aid and CPR training is required. … Even teachers in home care (rather than school) settings must comply.

      Perhaps you would want to encourage your government to set up such agencies in India. Our models are good to go and they could be duplicated. Indeed, information could be lifted and copied from these following websites.

      I do not imagine a copyright problem as long as attribution is made (source is listed). We are probably the most socialist state of all fifty in the USA and MA people would be proud if our materials were used in other states in our country or in other countries to improve educational standards and practices.

      We’re not perfect here in MA, but we certainly have firm guidelines, including that schools have to be licensed and inspected by education officials or be shut down. So, here is some of the salient information:

      Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) – Mass.gov
      http://www.mass.gov/edu/government/…and…/department-of-early-education-and-care/
      The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) conducted a Validation Study of the MA QRIS, and in 2017 began making draft revisions to the MA QRIS based on the results of this study and feedback from the field. EEC is now soliciting public comment on the proposed revisions to the MA QRIS. After the public …
      ‎EEC AZ Training Index · ‎EEC Learning Standards and … · ‎Licensing Resources

      Massachusetts EEC Professional Qualifications Registry – EEC Home
      https://www.eec.state.ma.us/PQRegistry/
      If you are currently working in early education or out-of-school time in an EEC-licensed center-based program or family child care home in Massachusetts, you will need to register to comply with the 2010 Family, Group and School Age Child Care Regulations. Educators, including assistants, who work with infants, toddlers, …

      Child Care Licensing – EEC Home
      http://www.eec.state.ma.us/oo_licensing.aspx
      The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) in its capacity as a licensing agency, licenses all child care programs in Massachusetts. EEC enforces strong licensing standards for the health, safety and education of all children in child care. Child care programs include family child care homes, child care centers, …

      EEC Teacher Qualifications – EEC Home
      https://www.eec.state.ma.us/tq/
      Welcome to the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Electronic Professional Certification Process. This free service is available to all early education and care professionals seeking an EEC certificate to document their qualifications as teachers, lead teachers, and directors in group child care …

      Search Results
      Section 51A – Massachusetts Legislature
      https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXVII/Chapter119/Section51a
      Section 51A: Reporting of suspected abuse or neglect; mandated reporters; collection of physical evidence; penalties; content of reports; liability; privileged communication. Section 51A. (a) A mandated reporter who, in his professional capacity, has reasonable cause to believe that a child is suffering physical or emotional …

      Reporting alleged child abuse or neglect (filing a 51A report) | Mass.gov
      https://www.mass.gov/…/reporting-alleged-child-abuse-or-neglect-filing-a-51a-report
      Reporting alleged child abuse or neglect (filing a 51A report). As a child care provider, you may need to file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Learn more about mandated reporting requirements for EEC-licensed and approved programs.

      [PDF]Report of Child(ren) Alleged to be Suffering from Abuse or … – Mass.gov
      https://www.mass.gov/files/child-abuse-reporting-form.pdf
      Massachusetts law requires mandated reporters to immediately make a report to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) when they have reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 years is suffering from abuse and/or neglect by: STEP 1: Immediately reporting by oral communication to the local …

      Report child abuse or neglect | Mass.gov
      https://www.mass.gov/how-to/report-child-abuse-or-neglect
      Learn what to do if you know or suspect a child is being abused or neglected. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

      [PDF]Report of Child(ren) Alleged to be Suffering from Serious … – Mass.gov
      http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/msp/missing/51a.pdf
      Massachusetts law requires an individual who is a mandated reporter to immediately report any allegation of serious physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse or neglect to the Department of Social Services by: 1. Immediately reporting by oral communication;and. 2. Completing and sending this written report to the …
      Child Abuse and Neglect Publications | Mass.gov
      https://www.mass.gov/service-details/child-abuse-and-neglect-publications

      DCF Mandated Reporter Guide. State law requires professionals whose work brings them in contact with children to notify DCF if they suspect that a child is being abused and/or neglected. DCF Mandated Reporter Guide. Child Protective Services: A Family’s Guide. This Guide explains the role of the Department of Children …

  3. James Royan says:

    Very incisive article, Marianne. BTW your name looks grand with the honorific before it!

  4. Kudos, another thought provoking article, that brings to light some of the tensions between nature & nuture, survival & thriving. Here is an extensive resource pack for early child hood development (ECD) https://www.unicef.org/earlychildhood/index_42890.html
    Best, Nick

  5. The dedication, love and genuine commitment of care givers to provide a safe and caring environment for children; and emotional support for parents is paramount. I have seen that these qualities far outweigh qualifications in the industry.

  6. Marianne Nazareth says:

    Your response makes me feel the effort was worthwhile. Thank you!

  7. Interesting article. Was surprised to learn that children learn more when they start center care between two and three years of age. Thank you Marianne

    • Sally Dugman says:

      It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. My own grandchild, who is a year and a half old and who lives several states away from where I live, stays with one of two nannies three days a week and at nursery school for two days a week since my daughter is an elementary school guidance counselor and her husband is a scientist designing materials and compounds for a company. So neither are home except when their work is over. … In any case, my grandchild got used to babysitters early in life and loves her nannies. Now that she is accustomed to her childcare center, she loves it, too. … My daughter and her husband were very careful in selecting both the nannies and the center!

  8. Edith Cassel says:

    I found the material on child care in the home and by child care providers both by Marianne Furtado de Nazareth and Sally Dugman comprehensive and topical. It is unfortunately, the economic demands of life in this century globally that there must be awareness and a Regulatory Body with strict guidelines for the benefit of our children at a crucial time of development. We cannot overlook abuse and it is imperative that the care giver is qualified to understand the needs of each child for proper development.In my opinion the responsibility is that of the parents in the first instance and to constantly be aware of change and development of their own children. Communication is the key if we want the best for our children. A very interesting article for all parents.

  9. Sally Dugman says:

    Oftentimes very young children aren’t aware that they are being physically or psychologically abused since they do not have discernment skills and concepts yet to classify such treatment toward themselves. They also don’t have the language skills to explain such a situation to parents and even if they were to try, they may be afraid to do so since they may be afraid of receiving further punishment for so-called infractions that they carried out in a school setting.

    I once filed something like a 51A in NY (named differently there) against a legal custodian of a four year old and trained the guardian on my own time without pay about positive reinforcement so that he could tell the Social Services investigator about ways that he expected to improve in the treatment of the boy. … He had beaten the child with a belt and it left strap and belt buckle marks on the boy’s belly. … I’d always watch the children in the bathroom to look for signs of physical abuse, as well as look for mood changes.

    My daughter, a school guidance counselor for around a half dozen years, has filed a lot of these abuse reports and, then, helps children recover. Her job is not easy, especially as she has 350 children to handle as the sole guidance counselor in a school while carrying out many diverse roles and tasks.

    I have given training sessions for EEC certification in MA. I have around a half dozen of them in my computer. If anyone wants them, give your email address to Binu, CC editor, and ask for them. He’ll pass your email address to me and I will ship them out to you. … Mostly they involve synthetic education, use of nature in education, early childhood literacy and positive guidance of children.